With No. 3 hitter Albert Pujols out because of left-hamstring tightness, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia moved leadoff man Kole Calhoun to the cleanup spot behind Mike Trout, Johnny Giavotella from the ninth to second spot and Erick Aybar from fifth to leadoff. That lineup produced six runs and 12 hits in Thursday’s 6-5 win over the Oakland Athletics.
Next to Trout, Calhoun has been the team’s best hitter, entering Saturday’s game against the San Francisco Giants on a 22-for-59 tear that raised his average to .320 with three homers and 13 runs batted in.
And if the offense continues to struggle, Scioscia said he would consider keeping Calhoun in the middle of the order even after Pujols returns.
“As you take one guy out of his comfort zone, you have to be pretty sure you’re replacing him with somebody you hope is able to do a job,” Scioscia said. “If the whole lineup makes more sense with Kole out of the leadoff position, we’ll do it, but I don’t know if we’re at that point right now.”
One reason Scioscia likes Calhoun hitting in front of Trout is he gets better pitches to hit. Calhoun may be only 5-foot-9, but he’s 200 pounds and strong, with legitimate power, as he showed when he hit 17 homers last season.
“Ideally, you want the guy ahead of Mike to be able to drive the ball because he’s going to get pitches to hit,” Scioscia said. “But if we have to make adjustments because we’re not deepening the lineup, no doubt, we’d consider some things.”